Senator Chris Murphy believes that everything that one needs to know about environmental conservation is embodied in the rototiller rule, which he learned from his Senate colleague, Angus King of Maine. In short, the rototiller rule is that if you borrow your neighbor’s rototiller, you should always give it back in as good of shape as you got it. If you screw up the rototiller, it is your obligation to fix it. According to Murphy, we have the planet on loan from future generations and we have the solemn responsibility to leave our descendants with the planet in as good shape as we found it. This should not be considered a partisan issue, but for reasons that have never been fully explained, support for conservation remains at the heart of a vast partisan divide in Washington. For what ever reason, Republicans in Washington want to return a borrowed, but broken, rototiller.
Yesterday, on Earth Day, Chris Murphy convened a meeting with conservationists and Fairfield County stakeholders at EarthPlace, a picturesque nature resource in Westport, CT. Chris Murphy is the first senator from Connecticut in a very long time to be a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. It is indeed fortunate for the State of Connecticut that, as a member of that committee, Chris Murphy has been well-positioned to fight for crucial continued federal funding for groups devoted to improving water quality and restoring habitat on Long Island Sound. Considering the apathy from a Republican-dominated legislature and downright hostility from the White House, it was a considerable achievement for Senator Murphy to be able to secure $12 millions of federal funds for Long Island Sound environmental programs in 2018, a substantial increase over funding in past years. These funds will basically be placed into two programmatic buckets–one for water quality and one for habitat restoration. Using these funds, the state will be able to monitor water quality in rivers and streams, and create shoreline buffers to prevent pollutants from migrating into the Sound and preserve natural marine species. Connecticut will receive Section 319 grants to address non-point sources of contamination, notably contamination caused by run-off.
After giving his own remarks, Senator Murphy recognized the critical work being performed by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound on behalf of the Sound and introduced the organization’s Executive Director, Curt Johnson. Johnson presented a recitation of all of the positive developments that have taken place in Sound restoration in recent years. At the same time, however, Johnson emphasized that much more work remains to be performed, particularly in addressing nitrogen creating “dead zones” of low oxygen that can cause large fish kills, and ocean acidification, which threatens finfish, shellfish, coral, and the web of life that depend on them.
It goes without saying that Long Island Sound is existential to Connecticut’s identity and a key contributor to Connecticut’s economy. We take pride in our magnificent coastline. The Sound is home to a resurgent shell fish industry, a variety of marine trades and, notably, Electric Boat (a submarine manufacturer). The coastline is home to many seaside restaurants, recreational fishermen (who now rejoice at the return of stripped bass), kayakers, tourists and sun worshippers. It is encouraging that Chris Murphy is 100% behind the effort to maintain and restore our Sound.